Perhaps you’ve noticed that on this website, we make it one of our missions to encourage parents to keep their young children off of social media. Social media wasn’t designed for kids, and therefore they face much more danger from its pitfalls than adults do. One such huge pitfall is the trend of social media “challenges” in which kids take dares or are taunted into risky behaviors via peer pressure. It sounds cliché, but it’s totally true. From eating poisonous Tide Pods to making yourself pass out, these social media challenges can be quite dangerous to an impulsive tween or teen who can’t properly conceive of the consequences. The latest “bad boy” on the social media challenge block? The Momo challenge.
What is the Momo challenge?
The Momo challenge, according to several online sources including ABC19 in Cleveland, is a social media challenge through the very popular WhatsApp (which is on the “NO” list, moms and dads!!). The popular info site Wikipedia explains it this way:
“The ‘Momo Challenge’ is a form of cyberbullying that spreads through social media and cell phone. After the victims are enticed to contact a Momo account through social media network WhatsApp, they receive graphic threats and are instructed to perform a series of dangerous tasks. The scheme may include hacking the victim’s phone. A young teenager trapped by the scheme may have committed suicide as a result. Despite claims that the phenomenon is reaching worldwide proportions, the number of actual complaints is quite small.
The ‘Momo Challenge’ relies on threats to get the victims to perform tasks. Targeting teenagers, “Momo” relies on Whatsapp messages to convince potential victims to use their mobile phone to contact one of several “Momo account” phone numbers. Whoever has set up the account then repeatedly threatens the victim to make personal information public (doxing), or inflict harm on family members, unless a succession of tasks is performed. Some victims are threatened with supernatural harm such as magical curses. The threats and subsequent communications are often accompanied by disturbing, scary or gory pictures.”
In Ohio, police are warning parents to talk to their kids about the Momo challenge and monitor their social accounts closely if they are on social media.
Lt. Dave Carter with the Lucas County Sheriff’s Office in Toledo told ABC19 that his 7-year-old son saw an ad for Momo pop up when he was watching videos on YouTube
“It’s shocking there you know and knowing that there is potential that they have been successful in having kids hurt themselves,” Lt. Carter said.
The Momo Challenge’s avatar, the creepy face pictured above, is a Japanese sculpture that, somewhere along the line, was adopted to represent the fictitious “Momo.”
Why is the Momo challenge popular?
Dr. Carolyn Ievers-Landis, a pediatric clinical psychologist with University Hospitals in Cleveland, told the news station that kids often participate in these challenges due to the timeless “peer pressure,” and not wanting to seem “boring.”
In general, kids and teens also, just want something that is exciting. I mean they’re looking for something that’s different, that maybe their parents wouldn’t approve of also,” she said. She also cautioned that parents need to get involved in these situations, no question. “If we don’t get involved,” she says, “something happens a lot of the time. And then we’re like, ‘oh, I should’ve called earlier, I should have said something earlier.”
The Momo challenge is nothing to mess around with; it is currently being blamed for the suicide of a twelve-year-old girl in Argentina. While incidents of suicide attributed to the challenge are scarce, we should still keep our kids OFF of WhatsApp. I mean, isn’t the loss of life in ONE child enough? And do you REALLY want your kid performing dangerous dares because some social media stranger with a creepy icon is telling them to?
PLEASE tell me you just said “NO!” No to the Momo challenge, and NO to your young tweens and early teens having social media. Teens and tweens do NOT need any help or encouragement in making impulsive, rash decisions…let’s stop giving them the tools to do so.